Sunday, 29 April 2012

Forgotten Bicentenaries

The unfortunate coincidence of sharing their year of birth with Charles Dickens (and the centenary of the Titanic disaster) means that two other bicentenarians are being overlooked this year, both of them famous poets, albeit of very different sorts. However, do not despair - they have not been entirely forgotten.

The first is Edward Lear (1812-1888) who, although an ornithological draughtsman and painter, is best remembered for his nonsense verse, not least 'The Owl and the Pussycat'. Lear is commemorated in an exhibition by forty contemporary artists, showing images inspired by his work, at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden which opens on 7th May and closes 8th June 2012. (Free entry)

The second is Robert Browning (1812-1889), the rather intense Victorian poet whose most accessible piece is probably 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin'. As part of ongoing celebrations by the Browning Society, there will be a Commemorative Evensong at St. Marylebone Parish Church on Sunday May 13th at 5pm, with a wine reception afterwards. Professor Margaret Reynolds will talk about Browning's work, there will be a poetry reading, and a specially commissioned anthem based on Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet, “How Do I Love Thee”, sung by the church choir. (Free entry)

Interestingly, both 'The Owl and the Pussycat' and 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin' were both written for the sick children of friends of the respective poets - are there any other famous Victorian poems penned under similar circumstances?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for mentioning 'Happy Birthday Edward Lear'. We didn't want his anniversary to be overlooked, and asked friends and artists we admire to create a piece of artwork inspired by him. We've got some lovely work coming in and are looking forward to hanging the show this weekend.
    We used to live near the corner of Holloway Road/Seven Sisters Road, where Lear was born, a sadly neglected corner now, though I hear a wreath will be laid in front of a house he lived in as an adult. The British Library also have events on over his birthday weekend,
    Linda Hughes and Andrew Baker.